|Serious spice at Szechuan on Snelling Avenue|
Whether you live in the suburbs, or find yourself outside your regular stomping grounds in search of restaurant options, there's value in knowing more about all the great eats beyond Minneapolis and St. Paul's most covered neighborhoods. In our Suburban Bites series, we'll explore the best places to eat and drink in the greater metro area.
What brings you to Roseville, dear Hot Dish reader? Are you here trying to find your way out of the gigantic Forever 21 at Rosedale Mall? Maybe you're strapping on skates and feeding your childhood Olympic dreams at the Roseville Oval or just going for a Target run at arguably the best and most consistently stocked store in the Twin Cities? In any one of these scenarios, you're going to end up hungry, so we've compiled a list of some of our favorite places to eat in this little north-of-St. Paul gem.
There are always at least two neon letters out or blinking in the sign above Szechuan Restaurant, but hopefully that won't cause you to miss it entirely when you're breezing down Snelling Avenue because this is seriously good, spicy, saucy Chinese food. So good, in fact, that in 2010 we voted it our very favorite Chinese restaurant
. Szechuan is still going strong and though they serve some standard Chinese-American dishes like sesame chicken and Kung Pao beef, you're guaranteed a better experience by selecting stuff from the more traditional Szechuan side of the menu. Get the numbingly hot Ma La boiled fish with pungent pickled mustard greens, rich and crispy double-cooked pork belly with leeks and shredded Szechuan hot peppers, or share a big bubbling hot pot and cook your own meat and veggies table-side. Extra adventurous eaters should put this place on their short list: Szechuan Restaurant serves all manner of oddities from frogs and pork intestine to sea cucumbers and jellyfish.
Don't mess around with getting a sandwich anywhere else in this 'hood. Just head straight to Maverick's and get a spicy Italian beef or brisket sandwich on a soft pumpernickel bun with a smear of fresh horseradish. Those are the rules. It's what Maverick's has been doing so well since 1999 and though they have other items, there is really no reason to get anything but the beef here. Actually, we'll amend that. In the colder months we also highly recommend getting one of their fork-and-knife open-faced sandwiches, like the turkey one with mashed potatoes and cranberry sauce all smothered in light poultry gravy.
Few places outside NYC deign to make their own bagels. We have a few here, including Common Roots
, but we were especially impressed with the chewiness of the St. Paul Bagelry bagels and soft, almost whipped texture of their house-mixed cream cheese, which comes in a variety of flavors. Go for breakfast and boldly start the day with breath-killing everything bagel and scallion cream cheese or hit them up at lunch for a stacked corned beef sandwich on toasted sesame.
Strip-mall sushi doesn't usually inspire a lot of confidence, but Osaka delivers solid food and a fun group experience. One side of the restaurant is devoted to Benihana-style hibachi, with all the onion volcano-making, knife-slinging, sake-squirting, and shrimp-skewering action, and another area for sushi and other Japanese dishes. The namesake Osaka roll is super fresh and light, with silky salmon, yellowtail, and tuna rolled together with thin sheets of cucumber and topped with daubs of flying fish roe. If you're sharing with the table go for the chef's choice sushi boats, which are generous, gorgeous, and come with miso soup and a ginger-dressed crunchy salad.